Tuesday, July 31, 2018

National Avocado Day - Recipe Videos

God, how I love avocados. My last bite on earth would be a simple slice of creamy Haas avocado.

This is a most delishious blog post you will want to bookmark for future viewing. And click on any recipe name to see all the original recipe photos and text.

July 31 is National Avocado Day and I have a ripe basketful of recipes for you to use this most luscious and rich fruit.


The creamiest and richest Avocado, the Haas, was first grafted from a single tree here in La Habra Heights in Los Angeles County almost 100 years ago. Read about the origin story here, And if you need a reminder on how to tell when an avocado is ripe, just click here.

The simplest and most tasty Avocado recipe is for Avocado Toast. Just mash a ripe Avocado, season with salt and pepper then spread it on warm toast. Use a tasty fresh baked slice of bread if have a local bakery or farmers market. But a nice nutty whole grain grocery store brand is fine.



Here in Los Angeles, Avocado prices are all over the map, from a buck and a half for a large one, to six small ones for 99 cents! If you keep an eye on seasonal sales you might find them for bargain prices too.



I like to start the day with this green bauble of deliciousness sliced and tucked into a cheesy Omelet. This is too much of a good thing but what the heck.



I like a fresh and creamy slice Avocado on my taco, how about you? And all my yummy Taco Recipes are a click away, here.


If you have a local Latin market in the hood then this next recipe is for you. Plus this recipe is a real dollar stretcher. Avocado Crema is a mix of Mexican Crema and mashed Avocado.


Mexican Crema is similar to sour cream (okay to use sour cream instead,) just sweeter. Use this recipe at your next Taco Party and serve it with chips, and top a taco or burrito -- so good.


If you have a favorite cold salad then add a chopped Avocado for a rich addition. I like Macaroni Salad mixed with mayo, krab, and Avocado brings it over the top.


For these immigrant bashing days, I have a Cesar Chavez Salad made with funky anchovies and illegal Mexican-immigrant-picked Romain lettuce with, of course, Avocado from Mexico.


The sushi California Roll was invented here and boy does the rest of the country owe California a big thanks. Even hardcore sushi connoisseurs will pick up a pre-made package in the deli section of a local grocery chain store. Check out my video below and see how easy a California Roll is to make.



You can't do a better sandwich than a BLT, or Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich. Oh, wait, I take that back - you can do better with the addition of Avocado, of course. Okay, now go and make yourself a BLT+A Sammie.



I discovered Cuban cuisine here in Los Angeles. And I like to start my restaurant meal with a Cuban Salad, comprised of Avocado, tomato, sliced onion and radishes, and mixed with vinegar and oil. Very simple but a great contrast to typical heavy and rich Cuban Roast Pork.



For the dog days of summer, nothing is better than a cool Ceviche. There is nothing to cook, just drain a can of beans and mix in shredded krab, chopped onion, jalapeño, tomato and of course, Avocado.

Chill it then get out the tortilla chips and park yourself under a cool shady tree with a frosty mug of beer or your fave cold beverage and watch the world go by.

I can eat Avocados morning, noon and night and you can too if you hang out at the 99 Cent Chef's food blog.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Italian Sausage Lasagna - Deal of the Day Review

Mama mia, is this a tasty Italian Deal of the Day! I haven't tried frozen fare by Devour, but if it's anything like their Italian Sausage Lasagna, I'll be on the lookout for more of their frozen entrees.


This is a simple but loaded Lasagna, and it's a good amount at 12.5 ounces. While the plastic bowl is a small rectangle, this is a thick Lasagna with 3 or 4 sheets of pasta.


The ricotta and mozzarella flavors shine with each hefty forkful. The ingredients list mentions sheep's-milk romano, too.

The pasta is tender but not overcooked, like a lot of frozen Italian pasta meals. And each layer has a thick film of ricotta cheese. Plus, it would be a delish Lasagna even without Italian sausage.


The sausage is in tiny crumbles, but still very pungent with fennel seed flavor you expect in typical Italian sausage. At least you get many sausage pieces, even if they are minuscule. The meat pellet texture is rough ground. It's very tasty and goes well with the mix of cheeses and sauce.


A rich herb infused tomato sauce holds it all together. There is plenty, just the way I like it. The fine print lists red bell pepper and of course garlic. It is a well balanced, rich sauce.


And the ingredient list is a long one, but most of the ingredients are at least recognizable. And it is easy to microwave since everything is swimming in sauce.

Click on any photo to see larger.

So on the 99 Cent Chef's Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give this Deal of the Day, Devour Italian Sausage Lasagna an almost perfect 8!

The cheap$kate Lasagna is highly recommended and is well worth 99.99 cents from my local 99c only Store. I would even pay a buck or two more for such a tasty meal. And almost any Italian Mama would be proud to serve this Lasagna -- which is good to the last bite.



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

National Hot Dog Day - Recipes & Reviews

July 18th is National Hot Dog Day, so let's begin with a recipe that is literally a hot mess, the L.A. Street Dog. The wiener is bacon-wrapped and topped with mayo, ketchup, mustard, and a grilled fajita mix of bell pepper, onion, and finally a spicy jalapeno. Whew, that's a mouthful. Check it out below. And click on any restaurant name or recipe name to see the original blogpost with all the yummy photos and tasty prose.



The premier tube steak purveyor in town may be Fab's Hot Dogs. Chef owner Joe Fabrocini has brought virtually all of America to the San Fernando Valley, offering a menu of beautifully crafted dogs from every region worth its mustard. The selection of hot dogs are head spinning, but go ahead and dive into my video, where I show you a few favorites.



Pink's
, L.A.'s most popular hot dog stand (the place can't put up all its celebrity headshots), was started in 1939 with just a pushcart, and has the longest lines of any fast food stand, and deservedly so. It has been filmed and reviewed by every media outlet in L.A. so I won't repeat it all here. However, I did notice one special hot dog that has not been covered, and that is the "Dude," named after the conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel. It's the most extravagant of hot dogs - get an eyeful of it in my video below.



Let's Be Frank, serves up wieners with compassion. No factory farm beef, pork, or turkey are used in their franks. All the animals are 100% grass-fed and humanely raised locally in California. Hormones, antibiotics, nitrates, and nitrites are not added in the production of the meat.



Carney's dining train car hosts the cheapest Hot Dog Happy Hour on L.A.'s notorious, and famed Sunset Strip, serving a trifecta of beer, hot dog, and fries for $4.75! This is one of the best deals in town too!



Come on down to Crenshaw Boulevard in South L.A. for soulful hot dogz served by Earlez Grill. These wieners are split and grilled on a flattop for max flavor. Check out my video below to hang with the boyz and girlz in the 'hood.



A culinary car crash of cultures, the Oki Dog is a true representative of diverse Los Angeles. Combining the all-American fast food standbys of hot dogs, chile and American cheese, with the Jewish deli classic pastrami, and wrapped in a Latin street food Mexican blanket of flour tortilla. I dare you to try and finish one. Well, if you want to see what I'm talking about look no further than the video below.



You don't have to go far these days to bring Coney Island to your town. I get a famous East Coast Nathan's Hot Dog from the frozen deli case of my local Dollar Tree, when I want an easy, microwavable, quickie lunch. They do the job and I even wrote a Cheap$kate Deal of the Day you can read here.


I like my hot dogs with just mustard and sweet pickle relish, how about you?



Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bastille Day - French Cuisine Recipes

This Chef is a Francophile. I like movies by Jean-Luc Godard, ye-ye pop music by Serge Gainsbourg, and pommes frites, yes French Fries.)

There is more to French cuisine than French Fries of course and I've learned how to make a few recipes for this Bastille Day on July 14th -- the cheap$kate way, of course. So read on to see scrumptious videos and food photography, that I hope inspires you to try a recipe or two. And click on any recipe name to go to my blogpost with all the yummy photos and delish recipe instructions.

This French holiday is celebrated as the turning point of the French Revolution on July 14, 1790. Hey, this sounds like a fine excuse to celebrate French cuisine, to me! So I'll start with one of my favorite ones, a hearty Cassoulet casserole.


One of my early L.A. jobs in the Biz was as a videotape editor. Lunch was often in a neighborhood restaurant run by a charming French couple. My favorite dish was a comforting plate of Cassoulet. It reminded me of a rustic home cooked all-in-one dish: a bean casserole version of Mom's Cajun rice dish, Jambalaya.

A classic Cassoulet is made with confit duck legs, sausage and white beans. I've yet to find duck for 99c or less a pound but chicken quarters from a local Latin market do fine; as for sausage, 99c only Stores always carry it.



A French mirepoix of veggies includes: onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot and celery. They will sweeten this stew with slow cooking on the stove top and in the oven.


In fall and winter months I make a Cassoulet almost every few weeks, and always have leftovers to enjoy and share.

My next Francophile recipe really does use the cheapest veggie, onions. French Onion Soup uses half a dozen roughly sliced onions, that are cooked down until caramelized to a sweet brown hue.

 I get them from my local Latin market anywhere from 4 pounds for a dollar. Go ahead and use the least expensive white or yellow onions.

French Onion Soup comes together with red wine (cheap is okay,) a fave broth, butter, and a little flour to thicken it. A pretty simple recipe, but oh so delish, especially when it's finished off topped with cheese and a slice of crusty bread.

My favorite fries are double-fried French Fries, and that's a tasty mouthful. Soggy fries were the norm until McDonald's came on the scene and changed forever the way Americans look at French Fries.

It became all about the crunchy outside and fluffy inside. Any anyone can do it if you follow my method in the video below. But you have to go to the end of the video for my French Fry tutorial, as the first part is all about British-style beer battered fried fish.



You would think a world-famous French chef would do French Fries right? Wrong -- I reviewed Chef Ludo Lefebvre's Fried Chicken Truck.


You can get French Fries with his fried chicken. Maybe it was an off day, but the fries were limp and soggy. I'm willing to try again when I run across the truck. Maybe they are great, just not when I was there. So check out my Cheap$kate Dining Review for French Chef Ludo's Fried Chicken and French Fries Truck to see for yourself.



But Chef Ludo  Lefebvre did turn my head around for his French Cheese Omelet. Man, is it tender and so good. The French method is to whip eggs first, then lightly scramble them with butter until almost done, but eggs still slightly moist. You finish by adding cheese and gently folding the egg into an omelet shape.

My omelet experience is with middle American diner-style where the eggs are solid and a bit dry. Now I make my omelets the French way, and you can too if you follow my recipe video below.



I grew up watching Julia Child cooking French food on her Public TV cooking show. And she literally wrote the book on French cooking called "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

Her personality was larger than life, and I had to do a video in her honor, after she passed away. My recipe homage is a bit silly, but it is done with heart. Check out my version of Julia Child's Crepes Suzette -- done by her nephew, Julian Child!



Beef Bourguignon is a classic French stew, at least until the Cheap$kate Cuisinier gets ahold of the recipe. Beef is too expensive, but pork is the right price, so I turned the recipe into a Pork Bourguignon.



All the other classic ingredients are included like: mushrooms, onions, tomato paste and of course, cheap red wine. To get that rich beefy flavor I include beef stock.


I didn't know there was a French-style Yogurt, so when I saw it at my local 99c only Store, I had to try it. Boy, is it creamy and flavorful. Yoplait is the brand and some buy this brand just for the cool jar.

I like to add fresh fruit to plain yogurt. I find that pre-mixed yogurt with fruit is loaded with sugar and way too sweet for me. Below is how I do it.



So do click on any recipe name to see my original blog post recipe, and dig in!

Viva la France and bon appetit!

Friday, July 6, 2018

National Fried Chicken Day - Recipes & Reviews

As far as I'm concerned, every day is Fried Chicken Day!
I know Fried Chicken, so keep on reading for all my recipes and eatery reviews on this auspicious day, today. And click on any highlighted recipe name to see my original blogpost for the recipe with all the yummy photos and delish recipe text. Mark July 6th on your calendar and my recipes in your internet bookmark folder.

Let's cut to the chase, here's my recipe for Fried Chicken. The recipe is for boneless dark meat, that goes into a sandwich. And you can use my seasoned flour coating mix for whole chicken pieces, too. So check it out:



Yum, that is a tasty Fried Chicken Sandwich, you should soon try.

Not every purveyor of poultry hits it out of the ballpark. World famous Top Chef Ludo Lefebvre stepped into the food truck trend with his Ludo Truck. I tried it a few years ago and was disappointed. Maybe he has tweaked the recipe since then. If he has I would give it another try.

Well, see for yourself below, and if you try it sometime let me know what you think.



If you want Fried Chicken done right, go no further and Popeye's and KFC.

I turned my neighbor, Nuno, on to Popeye's Fried Chicken one Tuesday - when they have a 2 piece special. I like it spicy. In my video below, Nuno and I try it out in my backyard patio.



Los Angeles has a slew of soul food-style Fried Chicken joints. One is favored by rappers, actors, football and basketball players, who come from all over, to visit Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood. I can recommend it too. I shot the place for one of my arty Restaurant Nocturne subjects. It is just too good of a place not to include in any top fried poultry listing in town. You get a feel for the place as the  maître d' describes his fave meal.



When I want a quick fix, I hit up KFC's drive thru for a Fried Chicken Snacker that's so good it can cause a freeway pileup. Well, watch my cautionary Public Service Announcement video to see what I mean!



My local favorite is Dinah's Family Restaurant. The chicken is lightly breaded and so juicy.

It comes with a side of macaroni salad or coleslaw, and a boring dinner roll. It's a simple and humble meal I always enjoy.


Mmmm...Fried Chicken Tenders. Click here to see my recipe. Your kiddies will like them served at their next neighborhood birthday party!


My Chicken Parmesan recipe is built around a breaded and fried chicken fillet. I don't pound the hell out of my fillet, as most recipes recommend - it can dry out too easily. But, pound away if you are a purist.


I'll leave you with a sour taste in my mouth, Trump Orange Chicken. I don't get political very often, but our Troll-in-Chief is just too good of a target to pass up. This sickly sweet recipe has a fat fried nugget covered in an orange (fake tan) sauce, just like the President!


Bon Appétit !

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